Ramona's throat mass is professionally assessed
Thursday, October 12 2023
Late this morning I drove over to the Brewster Street rental to check the five rat traps. To my surprise, there were only four traps, none of which had tripped. Gretchen later communicated with tenants and no humans had touched them, suggesting that a rat might've been partially caught in a trap and dragged it away down a hole. There was a hole under a wooden platform I'd probed with a wire hook, but I hadn't found anything.
Then I went to the Downs Street brick mansion and did the final work on the water-damaged wall, which amounted to a light sanding and a layer of paint. That's good enough for a rental unit! Gretchen will be showing that apartment this weekend, and that's why I'd been working so doggedly to get it looking nice (even though the next rain may well make it look like shit again).
This morning Gretchen had managed to get an appointment for Ramona with Dr. F, one of our favorite vets at the practice we traditionally go to. (We've decided that the elderly vet over on Route 32 just north of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge is a dud after he badly misdiagnoses Lester's arm condition.) She was anxious about how that appointment would go, and wanted to go select paint for the cabin's foundation wall to get her mind off of the possibility that we might have to have Ramona euthanized. Meanwhile, the tenants at the Brewster Street rental were saying that they could still hear rats trying to come up from the basement and were trying to get us to hire the exterminator for another two weeks, this time with the understanding that he could use poison (something we're morally opposed to).
While we were at Sherwin Williams selecting paint (both for the cabin foundation wall and the propane tank), a Brewster Street tenant messaged to say that one of my traps had caught a rat in the basement and could we please come and take it. Hopefully that will satisfy their immediate need for progress in the battle against the rats. The color we picked out was a dark brown (instead of Gretchen's normal favorite, an olive green) for both places. Then we drove over to Brewster Street to remove the rat corpse. Of course, since Brewster Street was still being actively dug up to replace the gas line, we had to park nearly two blocks away (on a one-way street we were forced to make a U-turn on to leave). I put the dead rat in a plastic bag and discreetly carried it down the street. As we walked back to the car, Gretchen chatted with one of the workmen working on the gas lines. He told us that in this kind of operation the street actually has to be dug up three or four times, and there were still a few of those left to do, since the old gas line still needs to be bled and then removed. When we got back to the car, I sat in the backseat with Ramona while Neville rode shotgun and Gretchen drove as best she could to our vet appointment. But school had just let out at the Kingston High School and city was a complex maze of road closures and detours (perhaps because other streets were also having their gas lines replaced). I remarked that the reason we were stuck in traffic with a dead rat in the car was deeply intertwined, since a big reason for there being rats in the Brewster Street house is the digging up of their habitat, the same thing that was making us have to cut over to Clinton Avenue through around numerous worksites.
At the vet, Ramona was too weak to even complain when a Portuguese water dog came over. That dog belonged to a woman Gretchen knows as a bookstore customer, and it was great she was there since we only had one leash in the car and we wanted to bring Neville in for moral support.
As for the vet visit itself, Ramona had lost five pounds (though not 13 pounds, as an errant scale initially suggested). The mass on the right side of her throat, which hadn't even been visible four days ago, was now the size of a grapefuit. The vet thought it could be either an infection or an aggressive cancer and that it was likely a swollen lymph node. What gave her hope that it was not cancer was that Ramona was running a slight fever. We decided we were willing to try an antibiotic in case it was an infection, and the vet also drew blood and a sample from the throat mass for further analysis. But because the latter would be so expensive, we deferred that analysis for the time being. After the techs had given Ramona a quart of fluids, she seemed perkier than she had been and had the strength to walk most of the way back to the car.
Back home in Hurley, Gretchen eventually made Ramona a "stew" of all her favorite things, including white beans and wet cat food. She ate it, but not very enthusiastically. We hoped the antibiotic we gave her (Clavimox) would work miracles, as it often does.
Meanwhile, I was still in the mindset that I would be going to the cabin this weekend. Gretchen pointed out how this was probably absurd given the high likelihood that we would need to come to a decision whether or not to euthanize Ramona in the next several days. At first I felt like I was being judged unfairly (for being the "monster" who might abandon his favorite dog on the last weekend of her life). Going to the cabin is something I really look forward to, and the possibility of not going felt more crushing than expected. I gradually came to the realization that all these feelings were grossly selfish, so I decided to stay in Hurley for the weekend to see how Ramona makes out and help with any decisions that need to be made.
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